The Cooldown- Week 20
Cover Photo via the Dallas Morning News/ Rebecca Slezak
Last week was not a normal one across the metroplex. As the regular season winds down and the intensity of district games heats up, the metroplex cooled down to the state of an ice rink. As a result, schools were closed, and basketball games didn’t resume until Friday night. That left teams in the DFW area to have to play district games on Friday night and again on Saturday.
The women only have one game left on the district schedule at this point. Most teams play Tuesday night to cap off the regular season, making it three games in five days. Fortunately, the teams that make the playoffs will get a week off before the playoffs start. As for the men, there’s still a full week left in the regular season, featuring games on Tuesday and Friday this week with the regular season finale the following Tuesday, Feb. 14. That’s the same day as the women tipoff the postseason. All of that is to say, the games that were played over the weekend and the games to come over the next week are of the most importance. These games will determine which teams make the playoffs and which teams will stay home. Now, let’s recap a few games from over the weekend.
Colleyville Heritage defeats Birdville
Colleyville Heritage won a crucial District 7-5A matchup on Friday night 67-65 over Birdville thanks to a buzzer-beating game-winning jumpshot from Sammon Johnson. The District 7-5A playoff race is as tight as any in the state and the margin for error is slim. Colleyville Heritage was in control for most of the game, though a strong fourth quarter from the Hawks made it interesting at the end.
Tristan Strength powered Colleyville Heritage to the win, finishing with 21 points. Ultimately, it was Johnson’s shot that lifted the Panthers past Birdville, and he finished with 14 points on the night. Cash Gardner and Zedrick Carter each chipped in 10 points to give Colleyville Heritage four players in double-figures.
Gehrig Normand finished with a game-high 24 points for Birdville. The Hawks also got contributions from Matthew Zakaria and Niko Lucero, who each scored 12 points. Grapevine sits atop the district standings at 8-3 with Colleyville Heritage tied with Richland and Denton for second place at 7-4. Birdville and Argyle are on the outside of the playoff picture, tied for fifth place at 6-5. That’s six teams for four playoff spots and just three games remaining in district play. It would not surprise me if a play-in game is needed to determine the last playoff representative from District 7-5A. Every game in this district will be one to watch the rest of the season.
Plano beats Plano East
Plano topped Plano East- also by way of a buzzer-beater- 52-50 to command first place in District 6-6A. Justin Buenaventura was the hero, hitting the game-winning shot from beyond the arc as time expired. Buenaventura was also the hero in Plano’s first win over Plano East, scoring all of Plano’s points in overtime.
The Wildcats had to overcome adversity on the road, trailing 17-8 after the first quarter. Plano slowly chipped away at the lead and made the most of getting the last shot in a one possession game. Nikk Williams led the way with 14 points for Plano. Justin McBride was right on his heels with 13 points. Tyran Mason scored 12 points and Buenaventura scored six points- including the most important three points Plano has scored all season.
Jordan Mizell led the way for Plano East with 14 points. Xavier Miller chipped in 10 points and DJ Hall scored eight points in the loss. Plano East dropped to 9-2 in district play, a game back of Plano (10-1). Plano East would need to win out and have Plano lose two of its last three games to win the district. Hebron lurks at 8-3, giving District 6-6A three teams firmly in the playoffs. Lewisville (6-5) and Coppell (5-6) are battling for the last playoff spot over the next week.
Lewisville outlasts Plano
Lewisville took down Plano 76-67 in double overtime on Friday night. After a close game through five periods, Plano ran out of gas as Lewisville outscored Plano 10-1 in the second overtime. Both teams are on the outside of the playoff picture as Plano is 4-8 in district play and Lewisville is 4-9. Hebron and Coppell are the class of the district- and I’ll have more on them below- with Flower Mound and Plano East the likely other two playoff teams.
Mya Dotson led the way for Lewisville with 31 points and Aliya Scott chipped in 19 points for a powerful one-two punch. Kianna Jones and Jenesis Brown each scored nine points for Lewisville. Salese blow led the way for Plano, scoring a game-high 35 points. Zen Nuako added 12 points and Kenya Palmer-Taylor added six points in the loss. Lewisville and Plano may miss out on the playoffs, but both teams have exciting players to keep an eye on for one last game on Tuesday night.
Hebron beats Coppell
Hebron took down Coppell 48-45 in the de-facto District 6-6A championship game. Hebron improved to 12-1 with the win while Coppell dropped to 11-2 with just one game remaining in district play. Sydnee Jones sunk the game-winning three point shot at the buzzer to lift Hebron to a district title.
Dana Gingrey led the way for Hebron with 15 points, including a flurry of three-point baskets. Jones and Jordan Thomas each scored 10 points to give the Hawks three players in double-figures. Waverly Hassman scored a game-high 16 points to pace Coppell. Jules LaMendola was held to 13 points and Ella Spiller chipped in eight points. Hebron and Coppell both figure to make deep postseason runs and should be fun to watch over the next few weeks.
Players of the Week
It doesn’t get any better than a buzzer beater to win a game late in district play! My Players of the Week are Colleyville Heritage’s Sammon Johnson and Plano’s Justin Buenaventura! As I mentioned above, both Johnson and Buenaventura knocked down game-winning shots at the buzzer in games their teams needed to win. Both Colleyville Heritage and Plano are teams to monitor over the next few weeks and throughout the playoffs, and Johnson and Buenaventura are big reasons their teams are competing at the top of tough districts.
Cover Photo of Plano's Justin McBride courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Staff Photographer Rebecca Slezak